A few months ago Shaquille O’Neal made headlines following a particularly awkward interview with Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell.
After a Jazz win, O’Neal gave a weird backhanded compliment to Mitchell.
“I said tonight that you are one of my favorite players, but you don’t have what it takes to get to the next level,” he said. “I said it on purpose because I wanted you to hear it. What do you have to say about that?”
A clearly taken aback Mitchell didn’t know how to respond.
This prompted multiple NBA players to come out and defend Mitchell, as well as a serious amount of backlash directed towards O’Neal for his questioning methodology.
In a recent conversation with Tony Jones of The Athletic, Mitchell opened about that whole incident and how he felt about it now.
“It didn’t really bother me,” Mitchell said.
“I thought it was blown out of proportion, but that’s just the media in general. When I said ‘Aight,’ for me it meant that’s cool, and that’s your opinion and it’s OK to have an opinion. I play to make sure that I’m the best player I can be for myself and my teammates.”
The Jazz are currently 28-10 and sit in first place in the Western Conference. A big reason for the team’s success is the continued excellent play of Mitchell. Whether he wants to take O’Neal to the woodshed for his commentary or not, the facts remain the facts – O’Neal was out of line in that particular exchange.
— Game 7 (@game7__) March 15, 2021
And frankly, it fit something of a developing pattern.
O’Neal is an objectively amazing legend of the game, but his off-the-court behavior leaves a lot to be desired. This was clear when a series of explicit text messages came out between him and a special lady friend, and when he talked about policing his daughters’ dating habits, and when he offered his most recent commentary on Dwight Howard.
It’s good that no lingering bad blood exists between Mitchell and O’Neal, but that doesn’t mean fans are going to forget about the exchange any time soon.